Over the Rainbow

Ridden and Reviewed by: Gravel Girl

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Imagine the ruby-slipper-wearing Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz singing “Somewhere over the rainbow.” Well, over the rainbow is where you are headed on this ride: over the Rainbow Market, a place known for its own cultural experience.

This ride starts at the Flight Museum in Madras which is officially called the Erickson Aircraft Collection. (Yes, we have permission to park there and leave your car.)

The ride heads west south on bike lanes, then meanders through double track gravel evolving into an old railroad grade from the turn of the 19th century. This canyon is just Wild West beautiful.

Note: You are one hell of a good cyclists if you make it through the short, crash-inducing rocky bits without playing “hike a bike” or foot dabbing.

You then hug the pristine Lake Simtustus shoreline until you reach Highway 26. This is when you sing Over the Rainbow (twice) for a quick two mile buzz downhill on wide shoulders to the Rainbow Market just outside of Warm Springs. (We really, really, really wish you could just click your heels three times and skip the highway section.)

At the Rainbow Market you can chat with the colorful locals or the Bendites who are blazing to the PDX airport. We don’t recommend the coffee but I’m sure the bottled water is good to go.

Now for the best part: The next 10 miles are single track, dirt roads and old railway grade along the Deschutes River with one continuous “oh my god” view. The two miles of singletrack have short rocky sections, some so close to the water that you are going swimming if you crash. Look for the bald and golden eagles. And just yell, “Yip! Yip!” to move the cows off the trail; they seem well trained.

Eventually you end up in a campground, where you leave the river and wind up to the main gate for Trout Creek Ranch.

Note: you can add in an additional seven miles of out and back to go see the Trout Creek Ranch which was homesteaded in 1890. Just read the signs if the gates are locked to know if you can hop the fence. It’s a beautiful ride, rocky gravel.

From here, zip through the one-lane tunnel, up a steep grade (15+ %) with an intermediate respite at Gateway, and then onto the  rim summit where you get booming views of the mountains to the west. From here it is a nearly straight line paved route, through farming country, back to the air museam.

**Adventure / Gravel Route

– Loop : 41 miles / 1900 ft gain
– Style: Mixed (3 gravel / double track sectors, 14 miles total / 2 single track sectors, 3 miles total)**
– Location: Madras, OR
– Course by: Gravel Girl
– Date Posted: April 2018


Advanced. Due to the 16+ miles of single track / double track, the short but steep climb out of Trout Creek Ranch where the grade exceeds 15% for 0.5+ miles, and the two bike carries over cattle control barriers / fences.

**The Start

Erickson Aircraft Collection / Museum. Park in the dirt lot on the north side of the building. Flush toilets and water.

**Food / Water

@ mile 16, Rainbow Market.

**GPX Track File

Click to download.


Red = paved road
Brown = gravel / dirt road / double-track
Blue = single-track

For help with Ride, GPS files, etc see the “Help with …” page. To learn how to download the routes for free, see “Using Our Routes …” page.

6 thoughts on “Over the Rainbow”

  1. If the wind is blowing hard from the south, I’d recommend doing this route backwards. We thought of that afterwards, of course!

  2. Super-fun route – thanks for posting it! Just rode it today and conditions were great. We even had a nice tailwind for the last 7 miles or so as we headed south to the start

  3. The rocky single track along the river and the rocky double track in the canyon section just after the museum make this route suited well for 40c or larger and tubeless tires. That said, it’s a beautiful route, some nice climbing but nothing to sustained. The road sections are remote and we probably saw less than a dozen cars. We started and finished the route at Mecca Flats Rec Area, where we were camping, instead of at the Air Museum.

  4. Vince Sikorski

    We did not flat when we rode it, but couple days later noticed that our tandem had a flat front tire. Found 2 goat heads and added 2 patches to our tube. So, there are goat heads, but not as bad as described above. I am considering switching our tandem to tubeless rims.

  5. Steve Klarquist

    Dear Linda,
    My fly fishing friends and I used to camp at Trout Creek often and use our mountain bikes to access the river up stream from Trout Creek – the stretch you are riding. This was in the late 80s and 90s. There are a LOT of “goats head” thorns along this stretch, or at least there were. We would literally have dozens of thorns in our tires after each ride. We used self-sealing tubes and plastic strips called “toughies” between the tire and tube to prevent flats. So I would suggest that tubeless tires are a must. Maybe everyone has them now, but there may be a gravel rider who does not. Perhaps the thorn problem has abated or is not as bad this time of year. But that was my experience. That said, it’s beautiful and the concept of doing it as a gravel ride rather than just fishing access is brilliant.

    On one occasion, we came across two state police who thought they would patrol this stretch on their mountain bikes. They were both pushing their bikes, both with two flats.

    It looks like you’ll be riding on Hwy 26, not 97.

    Have a great ride.

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